Jeff Skoll Trip to the Middle East

Several of our Skoll Global Threats Fund team accompanied Jeff Skoll on a trip to Israel and Palestine earlier this month.  The main objectives of the trip were to visit our grantees in the region, assess prospects for peace, and explore both double-bottom-line business opportunities and philanthropic ways to engage constructively in the region.  We spent a little over a week there, visiting Skoll Global Threats Fund and Skoll Foundation grantees and speaking with representatives from the business community (including a number of tech startups), civil society and government on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Through the Skoll Foundation and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, Jeff has engaged philanthropically in Israel and Palestine for a number of years, and the trip afforded an opportunity to touch base with several of the groups the two entities work with, including Friends of the Earth Middle East (see photo below), Sadara VenturesOneVoice, Partners for Sustainable Development, the New Israel Fund and the Telos Group. We also had an opportunity to meet with a range of other civil society players working on issues ranging from economic development to women’s empowerment to nonviolence.

Jeff and our president, Larry Brilliant, had been invited to come to Israel earlier this year by Israeli President Shimon Peres, and they met and had a wide ranging conversation with the President.  The group also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad to get his assessment of current economic and political challenges in the region, including on the peace process.  With Prime Minister Fayyad, we had a chance to discuss the upcoming film from Jeff’s media company, Participant Media, that focuses on the state-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority over the last several years.

All in all, an action-packed and extremely informative set of meetings that provided us a good sense of the complexities and challenges of working in this region at this moment of time.

Jeff Skoll and Larry Brilliant meet with the team from Friends of the Earth Middle East, a 2009 recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation, in their Tel Aviv office.

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